Membership of the NHS pension scheme is voluntary and is open to both NHS employees and NHS practitioners, aged between 16 and 70. Anyone joining the NHS for the first time after 1 June 1989 is subject to the earnings cap, as are any scheme members who preserved their pension benefits prior to that date and subsequently return to the NHS. The term 'practitioner' refers to independent contractors – general practitioners, dentists and ophthalmic practitioners – in contract with an FHSA or Health Board. Employees and practitioners contribute 6% of their salary and this payment is subject to tax relief. The contribution rates of occupational pension schemes need to be set at a level sufficient to pay for the benefits of the scheme. The Department is also discussing with the British Medical Association's General Medical Services Committee the financial and administrative arrangements for admitting such a large and diverse group of staff into the scheme.